Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Back on Track: Quickest Mushroom-Barley Soup

As you are aware- I am sucking it up in the blog world- but what you don't know is that I am also sucking in real life.  You would be amazed at how much I am losing at life these days.  For example- this soup:

Failed.  Massive failure.

It sounded like a good idea at the time. 

It smelled good, and all the ingredients seemed good, but Chris and I could hardly get our dinners down, and the leftovers went down the disposal.  I don't know what to tell you- except- please don't make this.

Quickest Mushroom-Barley Soup
adapted from Everyday Food (Oct. 2008)

Ingredients
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, trimmed and sliced (I used button mushrooms)
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper
  • 4 1/2 cups canned reduced-sodium chicken or vegetable broth (I used homemade)
  • 1 cup quick-cooking barley (Or regular barley cooked and then added to the soup)
  • 1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped (optional)
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 chunk (1 ounce) Parmesan, shaved with a vegetable peeler (we used shredded)

Directions
  1. In a large saucepan, heat oil over medium-high. Add mushrooms, onion, garlic, and thyme. Cook, stirring occasionally, until vegetables have softened, 6 to 8 minutes. 
  2. Add broth and 2 cups water to pan; bring to a boil over high. Reduce heat to a simmer; add barley, and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. (Or add cooked barley from another pot.) Remove soup from heat; stir in parsley and lemon juice. Serve garnished with Parmesan.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Life as we know it . . .

I have been a little absent lately- three reasons:

1. Internet has been weird.  Hard to get on when there isn't any.

2. Life changed a bit last Saturday.  We were driving to the mountains to go skiing and hit some ice, swerved, and rolled in Chris' parents' truck into a freshly tilled cornfield.  (Well, I don't know what kind of crops it will grow- but corn sounds good.)

Obviously, I left my phone and camera at home, so there are no pictures to document the event, but trust me, it happened.

We are both fine- thank the Lord.  Really.  It could have been a million times worse.  But thankfully, Chris and I both walked away from the crash with little more than a few bruises and a bit of a headache.

However, the car did not fare so well.  We still don't know what insurance is going to do with it, and we are waiting to see how on earth we can ever pay his parents back for trashing their truck . . so yeah.  But at least we are alive, right?

And just as my body was ready to take on the world again, I had to go to the dentist.

3. I got two cavities filled yesterday.  Two!  That doubles my lifetime cavity count in one trip to the dentist.  suck.  Cavities bite.  Plus, smiling with half my mouth was a weird and unflattering experience.

So there you have it friends.  Life as we know it is ever changing and always an adventure!  I am slowing catching up on blogs- I can't wait to read up on your lives.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Homemade Zucchini Bread

Hello Friends.  I have not been posting much.  Why?  My hard drive has virtually run out of room.  I think it might have to do with the fact that I have about 15 pictures of every thing I have made in the kitchen for the last year and a half.  So I have begun the tedious and mind numbing task of deleting the extras- but it is taking a long time because. . . well I don't really like doing it.  I don't understand where iPhoto is storing the photos and if I have duplicates or not.  Anyway, while I was going through the pictures I did find some photos I have not posted about so here they are . . .


Have any shredded zucchini frozen in the freezer waiting to get eaten?  No?  Me neither.  I think SnoWhite or Lucy probably have some they could share though . . .

This is good bread.  Very, very moist with the shortening- I might take a only add 1/2 cup of applesauce instead of 2/3 cup.  But we could have had really juicy zucchini though . . . Either way, you won't be disappointed.  Plus, the added cinnamon sugar topping is a sweet surprise to most Zucchini Breads.

Zucchini Bread
from family friend

Ingredients
  • 2 2/3 Cup sugar
  • 2/3 Cup shortening (I never have shortening- so I will use butter or applesauce next time I make this)
  • 3 Cup shredded zucchini
  • 2/3 Cup water
  • 4 eggs
  • 3 1/3 Cup flour (regular or whole wheat if you are feeling healthy)
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp cloves
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • optional: 2/3 cup each chopped nuts or raisins
Directions

1. Mix shortening and sugar.
2. Add remaining ingredients.
3. Separate mix into two standard loaf pans.   
4. Bake at 350 fro 60-70 minutes.
5. When done, sprinkle tops of bread with cinnamon and sugar.

Enjoy!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

House Tour: Fire in the Kitchen

Our cousin Kurt (yep- our cousin . . . long story) is in town for work and he stopped by last night for a little visit.  As we showed him the house, Chris and Kurt lighted several matchbooks on fire in the wood burning stove- because well, that is what you do when Kurt is around.  So Kurt, this one is for you.  Thanks for coming to visit.

Two days after we moved in, Chris accidentally started a fire in the kitchen.

I am not joking.

A real, smoky, burning, dangerous fire.

Luckily, he started it in the toaster oven and the fire politely stayed there until it ran out of air and died.

But it was an exciting 2 minutes while we watched and considered our options  .. . "Do we open the door to put it out with a fire extinguisher?" "Where is the fire extinguisher?"  "Do we have a fire extinguisher?" (Yes- two in the kitchen actually- thank you previous owners!) "What do you put on grease fires?" "Baking soda? Flour?" "Should we unplug the toaster?"

While we were deciding what to do- the fire died down leaving me with this:

A charred toaster oven and a smokey wall.

In our new-to-us house!  Seriously.  How ironic would it be if we moved into a house and then burned it down two days later?

Not good is what it would be.

My mother heard about our fire and got Chris a new Toaster Oven for Christmas (Thanks Mom and Dad!)  I was unable to wash the smoke off the wall so I just covered it with a little paint.  Good as new.
But Chris' toaster oven privileges have been severely restricted.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Best.weekend.ever.

We had one of the best weekends ever.  What makes the best weekend ever?

Start with three great meals (Red Robin, Buca and homemade calzones), add in new experiences (Roller Derby in Denver), continue to knock things off your list of things to do (painting the door and side table) and end with a relaxing night of Oscar watching with friends.

It was the best.

I hope you had a great weekend too.  What did you do?  What did you think of the Oscars?

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Lucy's Chili

I have failed the menu planning.  In order for menu planning to work- you you must go grocery shopping during the weekly sale. I did not.  Our stores switch sales on Wednesdays.  When I made the menu this weekend, I knew I would only be able to go on Tuesday afternoon, but when that didn't happen . . . well, the menu plan was pretty much useless.

Enter- new game plan.  A good opportunity to practice being flexible.  (Which I am not.  I dislike change.)
Instead of making a meal, I had to pull a meal out of the freezer and wait to make a new menu plan with this week's flyer.  I might be able to keep the old menu acutally, some of the same stuff appears to be on sale.  I think.  It has been a crazy two days.

Anyway, the meal I took out of the freezer was Lucy Marie's Famous Chili.  SnoWhite has raved about it.  And now I must concur- this is amazing chili.  And I don't even like chili!

One thing I did differently was add shredded carrots instead of diced carrots.  I had 2 cups of frozen shredded carrots that were begging to be used in something besides Carrot Cake.  The carrots give the chili a mild sweetness throughout.  mmm, consistently sweet.  and a little bit spicy.  Yum.  


Lucy's Chili
adapted from Lucy Marie

Ingredients
  • 1/2 lb ground meat (I used turkey)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 2-3 medium bell peppers, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, chopped (Or 2 Cups shredded!)
  • 1 C frozen green beans
  • 2 cans beans (any combo - I used black and pinto)
  • 28 oz. can diced tomatoes with juice
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1/4 cup ketchup
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar, packed
  • 1 heaping tbsp chili powder 
  • Dash salt
  • 1/4 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp cumin
Directions
1. Brown meat with onion and garlic in a large stockpot until meat is no longer pink. Drain, if necessary.
2. Add veggies and simmer for 10-15 minutes.
3. Add beans, tomatoes, corn, ketchup, brown sugar and spices.
4. Simmer on medium-low for as long as you like. Lucy usually make this in the morning and lets it simmer all day.  I let is simmer for a couple of hours.  It is really good.  

Monday, March 1, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

My first trial run with a menu plan was a success.  And by success I mean- we made four of the five meals listed.  However, I have not posted about all of them yet.  We haven't actually finished eating them all yet . . .  I will post about Red Beans with Sausage with Buttermilk Cornbread and Tomato and Shrimp Pasta with Feta tomorrow and Wednesday. 

I did post about Creamy Pasta with Sausage and Broccoli

and the failed Salad with Sweet Potatoes and Feta.

Despite my failure with the salad and my inability to post about the food we eat in a timely manner, I think the menu plan is very helpful.  I think the real success and strength of the menu plan is that I prevented me from going grocery shopping anytime during the last two weeks.  Bingo.  I am sure if I didn't have a menu plan, I would have gone shopping- and spent money on stuff we didn't need.  But since I had the stuff to make meals at home, I didn't need to go shopping.

So I will try again.

Menu Plan
  • Quickest Mushroom Barley Soup
  • Greek Stuffed Peppers
  • Chili Tacos
  • Chicken Cacciatore with Polenta
all recipes come from Everyday Food (October 2008)

Check out more menu plans here.